Summary of Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015
In March 2015, the Department for Education brought out new guidance for people working with children in England, Working Together to Safeguard Children (2015).
This guidance updates the previous version, Working Together to Safeguard Children (2013). Although not a major review, the 2015 guidance includes changes around:
- how to refer allegations of abuse against those who work with children;
- clarification of requirements on local authorities to notify serious incidents; and
- the definition of serious harm for the purposes of serious case reviews.
The 2015 guidance also incorporates legislation and statutory guidance published since 2013.
The changes in summary:
The referral of allegations against those who work with children (Chapter 2, Section 5)
Working Together 2015 no longer refers to Local Authority Designated Officers (LADOs). Instead, it says that local authorities should have a designated officer or team of officers for the management and oversight of allegations against people that work with children.
The guidance also states that new appointments should be qualified social workers, unless the person being appointed is an existing officer moving between authorities.
Notifiable incidents involving the care of a child (Chapter 4, Sections 13-16)
This chapter has been updated to clarify when local authorities are required to report incidents to Ofsted and the relevant LSCBs. It includes a section on what constitutes a notifiable incident.
From Working Together to Safeguard Children (2015) Page 74, this is as follows:
A notifiable incident is an incident involving the care of a child which meets any of the following criteria:
- a child has died (including cases of suspected suicide), and abuse or neglect is known or suspected;
- a child has been seriously harmed and abuse or neglect is known or suspected;
- a looked after child has died (including cases where abuse or neglect is not known or suspected); or
- a child in a regulated setting or service has died (including cases where abuse or neglect is not known or suspected).
The definition of serious harm for the purposes of Serious Case Reviews (Chapter 4, Section 17)
Working Together to Safeguard Children (2015) gives a definition of ?seriously harmed? following concerns that some LSCBs were failing to make appropriate decisions on what constituted serious harm.
From Working Together to Safeguard Children (2015) Page 76, this is as follows:
Seriously harmed includes, but is not limited to, cases where the child has sustained, as a result of abuse or neglect, any or all of the following:
- a potentially life-threatening injury;
- serious and/or likely long-term impairment of physical or mental health or physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development.
This definition is not exhaustive. In addition, even if a child recovers, this does not mean that serious harm cannot have occurred. LSCBs should ensure that their considerations on whether serious harm has occurred are informed by available research evidence.